WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from March 1 - 7, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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Philip in China: Are you indicating Pond Forge was an area of Sheffield, rather than the name of a particular business?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/09/08 07:59:02 EST

Bruce, keep the paint thin, BBQ black ages and then chalks anyway and will need wax over it later. Most (Derusto) brands are mostly graphite and thus pretty non-toxic if a little ends in the stew.

The best heat curing oil I have used is olive oil. Makes a nice varnish when heated. However, the problem with organics if you are worried about contamination is that they support bacteria. So you have the (minor) issues of organic vs. inorganic contamination. I'll take bug free dirt any day. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/09/08 12:46:12 EST

Guru: Right on about the olive oil. You've discovered my secret sauce! Bees wax cut with olive oil. Interesting note about the graphite content of the paints. I like to add a little lampblack to the mix sometimes. I have a couple dozen cast iron pots and forged utensils that touch nothin else. Never get detergent, just hot water, wipe dry and wipe down with oil every so often. Then they hang for days or weeks at a time. My wooden cutting boards get the same treatment. (Without the extra carbon) Never worry about the bacteria: even raw, and certainly once the oil is heat cured, there ain't enough available nutrients and especially moisture, to support the little bugs. That's why things like honey and peanut butter are virtually sterile: no air, no moisture, no bugs. Anyone refrigerate their oil, peanut butter or honey? And this is a fireplace crane we're talking about, right? Seems like enough heat to simmer the soup ought to sterilize the iron with every use. I'll take burned on grease over burned-off paint any day . . .
   Peter Hirst - Sunday, 03/09/08 15:18:42 EST

In the eastern Ky tradition, as taught me by my now 82 year old Mother, cast iron cookware is seasoned with bacon grease. The cooking oils, mostly bacon grease constantly replenish the seasoning. She merely takes a papertowel,(used to be a rag) and wipes the skillet out, then a moist towel is wiped quickly about the still pretty warm skillet and then pops it into the cold oven until needed again. I do not believe that has hurt anyone in her family, a tough as nails subsistance farming groupas has ever been seen. And that skillet has feed me more fried eggs, bacon and fried patatos than I can remember.
   - ptree - Sunday, 03/09/08 16:08:59 EST

For those around the Louisville, KY area take a look at eBay listing #190203441466. Tongs may sell cheap since they have a high shipping charge.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/09/08 16:52:19 EST

My game hunter sons and their mother will not let anyone get anywhere near their precious Lodge cast iron pans and pots with soap. To clean scrub with just plain water, dry, then heat with a smidge of Wesson or corn oil, turn off before it smokes, leave oil residue on it. Olive oil and butter burn at too low a temperature, is the consensus here. Break-in of a new one is the same.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 03/09/08 17:50:30 EST

Ken, I know Sheffield fairly well. Around the city centre there is an area called pond street and various other pond references. I think it was because there was a lot of rivers, canals and, yes, ponds there. All required for the steel making etc. processes that went on there. When I was much younger there was still quite a few cutlery and similar businesses in that area but they have all now closed. Pond forge would, I suppose, have been a particular forge but it would most likely have been in that area and have taken its name from there. This is pure guess work but I would be surprised if it were wrong.
   - philip in china - Sunday, 03/09/08 21:57:09 EST

philip in china: Or it could be like our Valley Forge (of George Washington fame) which essentially meant "Valley of the Forges". Pond Forge might have been "Forges of the Ponds". During the early 1800s water power would still have been essential to many manufacturing businesses.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/10/08 02:49:00 EST

Place Names: In much of North America there are thousands of places called "something" forge or "something" furnace. These industries were pioneer industries hungry for new resources (land for wood to make charcoal, water to run the machinery, ore and flux). They were often built in the middle of vast unsettled tracts and villages would develop around them taking the name of the business. Grist mills were similar but usually came after the area was somewhat settled and there was a need to grind grain.

These places and Forts were sometimes named for the owner, a business name or a landmark. Even tiny gristmills became a place where people gathered and soon a store selling goods would appear, then a blacksmith shop to service the wagons and horses hauling grain to the mill and finally a post office in the store which but the government stamp on the place name.

In England a long settled country these businesses often took the name of the location. Pond is a common placename even in the U.S. But Pond is also a surname and the forge could have been named for the man and the place took the name.

   - guru - Monday, 03/10/08 08:37:17 EST

Reading "Steelmaking Before Bessemer" it has a lot of discussion about Sheffield and quotes a lot of original sources. Many of the larger industries had several locations in Sheffield and as was mentioned they were generally located along the various canals and pounds used for water storage for millwheels or turning, staging areas for canalboats.

So a company could very well have a "pond works" and an XYZ works and as chunks of businesses seem to have been fairly freely shuffled around the "Pond Forge" could get to be a stand alone name.

Interesting book if you are into that sort of thing...the appendicies are about as long as the body of the book.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/10/08 09:48:37 EST

Business names are often curious things. I do business at a place called "Valley Fastners". Originally the "valley" part had to do with the Roanoke valley where many business are Valley plus something or other. The place I do business was a branch of the original which then went out of business. The new owner of what was a local branch, not in the valley, but now stand alone business kept the old name adding "of Lynchburg". Everyone just calls it "Valley Fastners".

Our old Grist Mill was built by John Organ and later owned by his son Holcomb Organ. The family owned it for nearly 100 years and it was called Organ's Mill. It was then sold to a fellow named Mitchell who ran it for 20-30 years. At that time the village and Post Office called Theta. But during Mitchell's tenure the USGS map folks created the local topgraphic maps and they labeled the location "Mitchell's Mill" instead of Theta. . . others owned the mill and we have owned it longer than Mitchell, but the name has stuck is is now the name of the road that leads to the mill. Meanwhile in their "infinite wisdom" the local road naming folks named a nearby road Theta Mill Road (going to Laynes mill) and another Organ's Mill that goes nowhere related to mills. . .

At least we are back to calling Cape Canaveral its true name rather than Cape Kennedy. It is fine to honor someone this way but well known historical locations should never be treated so callously. Kennedy deserved NEW things to be named after him. Perhaps the first permanent moon base or a new space launch facility.

The thing I do not understand is the new philosophy of businesses taking on completely new names every so many years. It makes one wonder what they are hiding or just how bad they WERE that they want to seperate from their past. It used to be that businesses were proud of their long history. Now they want no history at all. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/10/08 11:06:09 EST

Ok, I give up. I want to make a burner (or burners) to heat a forge box that is 14" x 14" x ~8". I want to make it a forced air system so that it gets hotter than a venturi style burner. I want to use this forge to smelt metal, as well as make cast iron. I am attempting this for a school project, trying to make damascus steel the original way. What do you all suggest I use for a burner, and where can I find a very detailed design of said burner? I am located in the middle of missouri in case it matters.
Thanks for all the help
   - chemgeek - Monday, 03/10/08 12:05:52 EST

ChemG are you wanting to smelt metal from ore or melt metal?

Original Way: since the term Damascus is used for two very different things, pattern welded steel and wootz steel and since pattern welding predates wootz I guess you are trying to weld up billets in your forge, rather than make crucible steel, right? Or is there a jargon issue?

Anyway, A forge is generally a poor crucible furnace and vice versa. I would suggest making one of each if that is your need. To get good efficiency you need thick insulation so allow for several inches on all walls. Then allow enough room to be able to place and remove a crucible without touching the walls (I would start by getting the crucibles you will be using and getting/making the handling equipment you will be using and design the furnace from that.)

Also you will need large propane tanks to avoid chilling them during heavy extended draws.

Blown burners are pretty easy as the powered air gives you more "slop" in making things work.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/10/08 12:38:06 EST

Chemgeek: Go to http://www.elliscustomknifeworks.com/ and click on "refractory and knifemaking supplies", then click on burners and burner kits. This is Darrin Ellis' site. He's a good guy and knows his stuff.

If all else fails call Darrin, he'll walk you though it.
   Alan-L - Monday, 03/10/08 12:39:51 EST

MEtal PRoject: Chemgeek, If you are melting metal then you want a different size and shape than a forge. Cast iron is "made" in a copula furnace which is a completely different animal than a forge OR a melting furnace. It also takes several people to operate.

The "original" method of making Damascus varies. One method is known as wootz. This uses a sealed crucible and long controlled heating and cooling periods. After the button of wootz is made then you have the very arduous and technical task of forging it into a usable shape.

A melting or crucible furnace is normally cylindrical. The crucible fits the furnace with a couple inches clearance all around with more at the top. The curcible normally sets on a replaceable block called a "crucible block" to raise it off the floor of the furnace. Good crucible furnaces have a drain hole in the bottom in case the crucible breaks or there is a spill in the furnace. In operation hot flame and gases exit this hole along with any leaked metal. It must empty to a planned place (crucible, sand pit).

Crucible furnaces do not need a large burner as everything is well enclosed and insulated.

NC furnaces
NC-Tool Furnaces

Pair of melting furnaces by the guru.

Crucible furnaces normally have lift off lids. The better hobby furnaces have a small jib and the lid lifts and rotates out of the way. On light weight Kaowool lined furnaces the entire top 3/4 of the furnace can lift off making it easier to lift the crucible. In either case you need special well fitted tongs to fit YOUR specific crucible.

The operating melting furnace above is made from a large freon can, uses a little 2 pound crucible and will melt a couple pounds of brass in about 10 minutes. If will probably get hot enough to melt iron/steel but those temperatures are hard on a small furnace.

The furnace behind it is made from a propane bottle and has a hard refractory lining. It has not been tested in use. At iron melting temperatures both of these would be hot enough on the OUTSIDE to glow red. More and heavier insulation would be needed.

All the above are operating on venturi burners. A blower burner would use a very small 50 to 150 CFM blower adjusted down a bit. These are using 3/4" pipe (ID) which is adequate.

You need to focus on ONE thing. Then figure out where to go from there. "Making" cast iron starts with ore, flux and fuel in a very special furnace. Melting it is often done in the same type (or similar) furnace but can also be done in a crucible. If you are going to do crucible melts you need to start with the crucible and tools to handle it PLUS all the safety gear. The total may break you budget before you start. Building the furnace is easy.
   - guru - Monday, 03/10/08 12:54:54 EST

Place Names:

As I remember, when the dust finally settled it was the Kenedy Space Flight Center at Cape Canaveral. Meanwhile, the NPS gets charge of Canaveral National Seashore ( www.nps.gov/cana ) where I get to worry about the headquarters building.

I will often grumble that the local island down here in Southern Maryland, where the first settlers landed, was called St. Clements Island for about 30 years, Blackistone Island for 300 years, and has been renamed St. Clement's Island again. Now St. Clement (the third Pope) was martyred by being tied to an anchor and tossed in the Tiber. No Blackistone I know of would be caught dead tied to an anchor (although we might provide an anchor, should such an occasion arise)! ;-)

Names change, roads move (there's a batch of phantom roads from where the new paved roads changed from the old roadbeds in the 1950s) and some folks call the stream by the church hall Mossy Run and some call it Mosby's Run and it's shown on the map as Canoe Neck Run because it is the main feeder for Canoe Neck Creek, which is a tidal estuary. Great fun, old maps and old names and local knowledge. Sometimes they reflect the past, and sometimes they just repeat mistakes.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/10/08 14:37:28 EST

Several months ago there was a discussion on "super sucker stacks" to exhaust coal smoke from a shop. I am just getting the chance to set a forge in the new shop and it's "chimney time". From reviewing the prior posts it was mentioned that the larger pipe (ie 10 inch) should slide over the smaller pipe (ie 8 inch stove pipe), with the smaller pipe being between 80-85% of the diameter of the larger pipe (does that make sense?). Anyway I have a piece of 12 inch pipe that I was planning to use (free) vs purchasing the 10" pipe. Would using the 12 inch pipe to "top off" the stack be too big, or is it benificial enought to purchase the 10" in order to have the 80-85% ratio? So far this is the shop of my dreams and I don't want to cut corners where it really matters.
   - Nathan - Monday, 03/10/08 16:05:59 EST

Nathan, The ratio mentioned was the side draft opening to the stack size. The stack should be 10 to 12" depending on the forge size. There should be NO reduced area except where the opening next to the fire is. This creates an area of high velocity gas/air movement. The 80 to 85" is the maximum. Smaller, down to 50% also works. SEE

Planfile (drop down menu), Super Sucker Side Draft Forge Hood

Also, Side Draft Forge Hoods. Note that one has a smoke shelf for those whose religion absolutely requires one. However, it is the general consensus among the more scientific minded that they are not required.

On all these designs it is helpful to make a little flap or mini-hood to help guide some of the rising smoke into the opening. This should be hinged OR removable so that if it gets in the way it can be removed.
   - guru - Monday, 03/10/08 17:30:47 EST

I have been asked to build several sets of stone cutting tools. I have found patterns and the man who wants them has sketched out what he wants, so making them is no problem. What I need to know is what is a good steel to use for making this type of tool. He is using it in a arts class on soft stone.
   Brent - Monday, 03/10/08 18:24:46 EST

Brent, A popular tool steel among smiths is S7. Being a shock resistant steel it is often used for dies and struck tools.

A good extraordinarily tough steel is 5160. It is also available in the popular hex bar used for many chisels. While considered a spring steel by many it is also used for many tools.

More important than the steel selected is how well you handle it during forging and heat treating. Common carbon steels properly heat treated can out perform more high tech alloy steels if not properly handled. This is why many smiths work with what they are most familiar and use the same steel for almost all tooling.

   - guru - Monday, 03/10/08 19:00:06 EST

I live in Arlington County, VA, which is a close-in suburb of Washington, DC. (I like to call it an ex-urb, because it was part of DC until the 1850s or so).

Not surprisingly, there are a number of businesses in the local phone book named Arlington this or that. But a good chunk if them, including almost all the commercial suppliers and light industrial businesses, are not located in Arlington. I assume, and in some cases know, that they opened in Arlington, but got forced out as property values increased.
   Mike BR - Monday, 03/10/08 20:00:21 EST

Nathan, I made a really easy side draft setup for 12" stove pipe, here is how: Cut both ends out of a scrap 20#-60# propane tank, this gives You a cylinder 12" in diameter. Cut a 10" wide x 10" high opening in the side of this cylinder, so when it stands on end it looks like it has a giant mouse hole in it. Mount this with the opening right next to the firepot on Your forge and close off any open part of the bottom of the pipe. Stick the 12" stovepipe in the top of the cylinder, fasten it if it is a permanant setup. That is all there is too it, You could even make the stove pipe from scrap cylinders welded together.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/10/08 21:02:16 EST

Are going to the Big Blue hammer-in?
   - mike - Tuesday, 03/11/08 07:52:51 EST

I hear that Euroanvils are soft compared to other big names. Do you guys thinks that they are hard enough for a "lifetime" anvil or should I look elsewhere? I want at a 400 lber and I like the Czech style. I also like Nimba anvils but have concerns about the pritchel hole being on the rounded part of the horn. The 500 lb Euroanvil is only $1400 but they don't list the hardness. Thant's why I'm asking. Thanks
   - Tom - Tuesday, 03/11/08 08:02:01 EST

I am building a gas forge and need to know how to attach 3 layers of Kaowool to the vertical surfaces of the doors. Any suggestions?
   sig - Tuesday, 03/11/08 11:02:02 EST

Anvil manufacturing techniques have changed a lot in the last hundred years, with the new standard being an all cast anvil, made from alloys that didnt even exist not too long ago.
This makes the most economic sense to anvil makers, so thats what you can get. But an all steel cast anvil is never going to be as hard as a wrought iron anvil with a steel top plate- because a 400lb chunk of steel is much more difficult to heat treat evenly and precisely than a 3/4" thick piece.
This means all the new cast anvils, especially in sizes over 200lbs, are softer than 100 year old, composite construction anvils. This is just a fact of life.
A big Nimba is a bit softer than an old Hay Budden or a Peter Wright-but with care, its still perfectly usable. Just dont let your striker miss too often with his 12lb sledge.

As for "lifetime"- well, thats relative. How many hours a day do you forge tool steel? Any anvil can be worn out, they dont last forever, but a modern all cast one can be reground, and I would expect, in 100 years, we will be seeing Nimba's that are a half inch shorter than when they were born.
I think that in a one man shop, you could expect almost any currently made anvil to last your lifetime, unless you worked with very hard materials all day every day, with huge hammers.

An anvil is a tool. Tools get used up, thats a natural fact, and a cost of doing business.Nothing lasts forever, especially when you beat on it with a hammer all day.
We are lucky enough to have a large pool of used anvils in the USA that sell for a fraction of replacement value- we know that it costs around $1200 to $1500 to make a new anvil today, and yet you can still find used ones for a few hundred.
   - ries - Tuesday, 03/11/08 11:22:07 EST

I would like to know how to color mild steel. I have seen projects with straw, purple and blue colors. How do they do it and will the color last?
   Bill - Tuesday, 03/11/08 13:21:07 EST

Bill, I think you're talking about colors produced by heat on bare metal between 430ºF and 630ºF, sometimes called tempering colors. Ideally, the metal should be scale free and degreased. The colors are superficial, resulting from a quite thin film of iron oxide.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/11/08 15:03:58 EST

Tom: Also keep in mind if you invest in a good powerhammer your need for 'anvil mass' is reduces to finishing/touch-up work. My air-hammer is based on the Kinyon design. I do things with it now I wouldn't have considered via the anvil and hammer.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/11/08 16:11:14 EST

"But an all steel cast anvil is never going to be as hard as a wrought iron anvil with a steel top plate- because a 400lb chunk of steel is much more difficult to heat treat evenly and precisely than a 3/4" thick piece.
This means all the new cast anvils, especially in sizes over 200lbs, are softer than 100 year old, composite construction anvils. This is just a fact of life.
A big Nimba is a bit softer than an old Hay Budden or a Peter Wright-but with care, its still perfectly usable. Just dont let your striker miss too often with his 12lb sledge."

RIES-I must disagree with your statement above regarding anvil face hardness. While it would be true if the 3/4" plate were heat treated by itself, since it would cool much faster than a large anvil, that is, as I know you know, not how things were done. The plate was heat treated after forge welding to the rest of the anvil, so in effect, you still have to cool the entire mass of the anvil. The only steel available for anvil faces up until modern alloys were developed was a case hardened wrought iron (sometimes know as shear steel) or crucible steel. In both case you are dealing with very low hardenabilty materials. These would be equivelant to what we now know as 10xx steels, with anvils faces being made from things like 1050-1075. These grades will only harden to around an inch deep regardless of section size, so even if you made the entire anvil out of this grade, you'd still only get a hard shell.

Modern alloys utilize alloying elements in addition to carbon to increase the depth of hardness achievable and, in some cases, the maximum hardness achievable. Therefore, modern alloys have the ability to be through hardened in large sections if desired. I would claim that a large modern anvil such as a NIMBA will be at least as hard as a comparable Peter Wright, Moushole, Hay-Budden etc. If they are not, it is not because the material (in the case of Nimba this is 8640) is not capable of achieving that level of hardness, but rather because the manufacturer has chosen not to make the anvil that hard. This is usually done to reduce the risk of chipped edges on anvils. With respect to the Euroanvils/Oldworld anvils, the materal grade is (or was a few years ago) basically a 1530. This is a plain carbon steel with extra manganesse added to increase hardenabilty. This grade is not as expensive as 8640 and will not harden as deeply, but still gets hard enough for a good anvil. It wouldn't surprize me if the Euroanvils are a little softer than the Nimba/Rathole/Refllinhaus/Kohwalsa, but in my experiene, the are still a very good anvil and I would expect them to last at least as long as any of the old anvils like Peter Wrigt and Haybudden. One advantage of any of the modern anvils over many of the older ones is that they will not develop the sway that is common on the faces of old wrought iron bodied anvils.

Keep in mind that the manfacturing technique (forging vs. casting in this case) has NO bearing on the final hardness. It is all a function of alloy selection and heat treatment.

In answer to Tom's question about hardness, I'd have to ask how much hammer control he has, how often he uses the anvil and the type of work he is doing. I have 390# Peter Wright that was extensivly reparied with low carbon, low alloy mig wire (probaly similar to 6013 or 7018) and it serves me very well. If the anvil gets dinged I have no qualms about grinding and reparing it myself so I don't mind the fact that it is a bit soft. Others might not like that feature. The hardness of the anvil shouldn't affect your ability to do good work. There are many examples throughout history of anvils that were a simple block lacking any hardened surface that were used to produce excellent quality work. This is still true today in many third world countries where they can't afford modern anvils.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 03/11/08 16:22:57 EST

If you want your entire piece of steel to be blue, or purple, or straw, you are going to need a thermostatically controlled oven, and do some trial and error. Once you get the whole piece too hot, it goes to the next color, and then to mill scale. Pretty tricky to heat it just enough, but not too much.
I used to make a line of furniture with heat discoloration drawing on it- I found it works best the thinner the steel is- 16 ga is great, 1/8" is a bit tougher, and thicker than that, the whole piece has to get so hot you start to lose definition.
I found the trick was to sand the whole piece shiny,with a fine grit, then, right away, use a very small tip on the oxy fuel torch to draw the colors. Too big a tip,and the whole thing goes dark blue.
Then, immediately after heating, I would clearcoat. For quick and dirty stuff, I had good luck with Krylon crystal clear. For tougher finishes, I would send it out to be clear powdercoated, making sure it was powdercoated that day, and that everybody who handled it wore white cotton gloves. Otherwise, you get rust colored fingerprints appearing in a day or so.
I still have some of the clear powdercoated pieces, ten years or so on, and while they have darkened a bit with age, the heat colors are still quite visible.
   - ries - Tuesday, 03/11/08 16:28:37 EST

Patrick, you are the metallurgist, and I am not- so I defer to you.
I do know that, by historical standards, most modern cast steel anvils are softer than anvils used to be.
And I also know that the bigger the anvil, the softer it usually tends to be, but these are merely empirical observations.

I am quite happy with the hardness of my Nimba, but I do know that people whose only experience has been with 100 year old anvils tend to find Nimba's, and therefore probably Euro anvils, too soft.

Whether this is due to technical considerations, cost, or just the whim of the manufacturer, I do not know, but I am pretty sure its generally true.
Dont know about RatHoles, though, as I have never used one.
   - ries - Tuesday, 03/11/08 16:33:06 EST

WRT anvil hardness, I'd have to agree with everything that Patrick said regarding modern alloys. I'd also add that modern manufacturing has the capability of much better process control than did the folks in the 1800's and early 1900's. Better control of austenitizing temperature, rate of cooling during quench, temperature of the quenchant during the process, etc. Also, better control of tempering temperatures and better uniformity of those temperatures in the furnace. There's no reason that you can't manufature a more fracture resistant and harder anvil today, other than cost and liability.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 03/11/08 17:28:33 EST

Rock Hard Anvils: The old anvil makers had a different warrentee and liability climate to deal with than modern makers. The old rock hard anvils would often spall at the edges sending a razor sharp hot piece of metal flying at bullet velocity. . . Yep, they were hard and difficult to ding (it still could be done) and the manufacturers were not worried about product injury liability due to an over hard anvil. Modern makers do. . .

I've had two old Kohlswa's and both were hard as glass. As a result they both had chipped edges when I got them. Even though they were as hard as ANY anvil made an apprentice covered the face of my 300 pound anvil with hammer dings in one afternoon . . . .

AND while there are some wonderful steels to cast anvils from the best are very pricey and require very careful post casting cooling and just as careful heat treatment. Modern anvil makers have to consider material cost and handling thus opt for less exotic easier to handle steels.

You will find most American cast anvils to be better than those those cast anywhere else. The import anvils are not quite as good a steel and are not nearly as good of castings. The Euroanvil will hold up to a lifetime of use but you get what you pay for. Right now except for the ASO's sold on ebay and from a few importers you pretty much get what you pay for in a new anvil. You want top quality, you pay top dollar.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/11/08 19:06:43 EST

YES, I will be at the BigBLU Hammer-In.

OBTW - They use a 500 lb. Euroanvil (among others) and put it through some terrible abuse (lots of sledge work). If you want to see one that has seen heavy commercial use for 5 or 6 years come to the BigBLU Hammer-In.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/11/08 19:10:31 EST

I heard once that large anvils were deliberately left a bit softer as this was better for teams of strikers using heavy hammers. I don't know if this is true though. As you all know I have to use whatever I can get here or whatever I can afford to import. I used some older anvils in UK and must say I am a great fan of modern high quality anvils. No potential nasty surprises and they are true, square and level. Perhaps if I had more experience I would like the older ones but at my stage I need all the help I can get.
   - philip in china - Tuesday, 03/11/08 19:22:29 EST

Hi Everyone,
It's been a long time since I had any questions for you fellas. Renovations have made it hard to find any quality time at the forge :(
Anyway, I have been taking a long hard look at the demo by Genia Burch on forging a lily candle holder. Would this be over-ambitious when I only have a 65lbs anvil and a drum forge? Are there any shortcuts I could take to offset my lack of a power hammer?
   Craig - Tuesday, 03/11/08 20:15:28 EST

Hello all:
I have not posted here before, but have made an effort to view as much of your website as I can. I've learned much. I have de-rustified a small hand crank blower which I've been told is from a portable calvary forge. To get to the insides I had to melt the babbitt out from around the main shaft, which the handle attaches to. I've tried researching the matter, and it seems that most babbitted bearings were sort of poured in 2 halves. This particular bearing however seems to have been poured in one solid cylinder around the shaft in the cast iron housing, 2-3 inches long. I've never played with babbitt before, so any info would be great.
Thank You
   Josh S - Tuesday, 03/11/08 20:41:49 EST

When I was researching pouring some babbitt bearings, I found out that one of the tricks for making some clearance around the shaft was to put a good layer of soot on the shaft using n a/o torch to produce the soot. We salvaged the nut on a worn out post vise by casting babbitt aound the threaded shaft- been in us for years with no problem
Hope this is of some help
   - ptpiddler - Tuesday, 03/11/08 20:59:59 EST

I too agree with Patrick, Gavinh, and Jock that modern tool steels can be cast in rather large sizes and fully hardened. The machine building company I worked for has some rather large [many hundresds of #] rolls cast from D2, there are foundries that cater to this speacialty work. Cost is the deciding factor. Bear in mind that anything You buy retail had to be manufactured complete for less than half [or less] of what You pay.
I have one of those old Swedish cast steelanvils, it is really hard and has an edge chipped off to show it.
After seeing unhardened cold rolled steel hold up half decent on Steve Gench's 90# hard hitting power hammer I have to say that hardness is less of an issue than I would have thought as a tool & die maker.
In the stamping industry We of course had to go with maximum wear resistance and 60+ ish rockwell "C" to withstand many millions of parts being formed cold.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 03/11/08 21:38:19 EST

The soot method described By ptpiddler is the age old method used when casting babbit, the O/A torch being the soot maker of choice for the last 100 years.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 03/11/08 21:42:03 EST

Josh-- I think Lindsay Books www.lindsaybks.com-- has a how-to on pouring babbitt in their print catalog if not in the online catalog. If you phone them do it in the a.m. their time-- they don't pick up afternoons. Centaur (see dropdown re: advertisers on this site) sells babbitt, as I recall.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 03/11/08 22:21:44 EST

Rathole Forge anvil hardness. I don't want to test my Rathole for hardness; don't even know how. I can only say that it is held fast in a box of sand with crossbars, bolts, and nuts. It has very good rebound.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/11/08 22:32:02 EST

Fairly simple hardness test. Find a large ball bearing (say 3/4" to 1"). Hold a ruler upright on anvil and drop ball with bottom at 10". Average height of rebound (bottom of ball) at several places gives you a hardness indicator. That is, the higher the rebound, the harder the top.

Seems like it was ptree who tested a HF cast iron anvil via this method in the store. The concrete floor had a higher rebound than the anvil.

My understanding is HF retail outlets are phasing out the 110 lb Russian anvil. Really a shame as with a bit of redesign it could have been a fairly decent starter anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/12/08 06:11:51 EST

Josh S
I'm not sure if it would be cost effective, but I used to work for an industrial distributor and sold babbit and babbit rite to rock quarries on a very regular basis. Quarries use it to rebuild crushers. Might want to check with a company like Motion Industries or Applied Industrial Technologies. Might be cheaper?
   - Nathan - Wednesday, 03/12/08 08:09:51 EST

Babbitt Bearings: Josh, It is quite common to cast a one piece bearing around a small shaft. Be sure the soot is good and heavy, preheat the housing and the shaft so the babbitt cools slow and be sure to build up some riser to feed the bearing as the solidifying metal shrinks a LOT. Once cooled you will need to apply some force to the fit to get it free. Some WD-40 and a little woking and it will turn freely.

For closing and making a "mold" of the bearing a product called "Damtite" is used. This is a thick tarry substance sort like a heavy modeling clay that needs to be warmed to work. Sheet metal (shim stock) is used to make smooth closures and the Damtite used to hold it in place.

MCMaster-Carr alls it "Casting Retainer Putty".

The early editions through 1964 of Machinery's Handbook have details on pouring babbitt. See our book review page for more info.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/12/08 08:27:45 EST

Calla Lilly Forging: Graig, The "Lilly II" by Jr. Strasil, uses a welded blank and is much easier to forge. Those forged from solid use 1" stock which is a bear to hand forge unless you have been working at the forge daily and wield a large hammer. It can be done but I would not want to. However, scaling down and starting with 3/4" stock can make it much easier.

About the only things that make these jobs easier is using hard to get wrought iron and having a helper strike with a heavy sledge (8 -10 pounds).
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/12/08 08:39:41 EST

One trick for overly enthusiastic new folk is to make them use a soft hammer! I have a french pattern crosspein from the Lynch collection that must have been through a fire (considering the history of those pieces not unlikely) and so the head is quite soft---but still way harder than hot steel!

I can let new folks whale away with it serene in the knowledge that they are not nessing up my anvil face and the hammer can be dressed a whole lot easier!

There is a roman era anvil in the museum in Bath England where the whole top has deformed into a beautiful mushroom curve from a *lot* of forging on a soft iron anvil. As it stands today I would be happy to have it in my shop as a "using" anvil

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/12/08 10:19:42 EST

About 3 years ago I helped tear down a barn that I owned. First the barn was located in Defiance County OHIO. The barn was 100 plus years old as was the home. The small town for which my address was, NEY, OHIO 43549. I believe you may need this information if you can help me. I would be happy to send you a digital pic if you would like to see it. I removed an item from my barn and I will do my best to describe it. It was located in the top of the barn, was held on to a very clean beam that ran the length of the barn. This item was used to move hay or straw to the mow, by pulleys and ropes. It is very heavy, and has this visible information on it: NEY MFG CO CANTONO (on two sides) i am assuming it was made in NEY, OHIO. Numbers and letters that I can also see with out looking too hard are "19T" or "79T" and 32TL. I am looking to sell it and have no real information on it. Thank you for your time, I look forward to finding out about this antique.
   Cathy Loeloff - Wednesday, 03/12/08 13:39:47 EST

need a machine to hammer warth iron flat and square bar
   john briggs - Wednesday, 03/12/08 13:47:38 EST

Cathy; I would have guessed it was made in Canton OH by the Ney Mfg co, which name may or may not be linked to Ney OH.

Is it the type with large arms that come down and grab loose hay or a spear that impaled baled hay---indicates age as in a 100 year old barn anything could be brand new to a bit older than 100 years---recycled equipment.

I have never seen either type of hay hauler go for over US$50 at auction in the 15 yeqars I lived in OH (1989-2004).

A picture is really a necessity.

John Briggs More information please, how heavy of steel, how much of it and what do you mean by "hammer" are you trying to apply a "hammered look" to cold steel bar; hammer hot steel to shape what? I assume you have already looked at the pre-hammered stock available for fab work and decided that it would not work for your use.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/12/08 14:33:42 EST

I quickly learned which hammers NOT to have beginners use with my anvils! I have one that's so hard that any miss is a mar.

Another similar rule that I use is to use a harder faced hammer with my hardy; it’s easier to re-sharpen a hardy than to redress a hammer face.

I’ll be at Jamestown Settlement this weekend for Military Through the Ages ( http://www.virginia.org/site/description.asp?attrID=22866 ). No forging, but we’ll have plenty of ironwork there. We’re doing “The English Navy, 1066” standing ready for either the Normans or the Norse with our ship’s boat, arms, armor, deadly-hand-forged-8-foot-ash-shafted-boat-hook, and other fun stuff.

(Unfortunately, in later September, 1066, the navy was dismissed just before the Normans sailed. Everybody agreed that you’d have to be crazy to sail with the autumn gales about to descend. 8-0 )

Warm and cloudy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/12/08 14:37:11 EST

What years were Peter Wright anvils manufactured ?
   - GatorSpike - Wednesday, 03/12/08 15:43:52 EST

I guess I should have explained myself better. I know that copper and brass can have mixtures of chemicals put on them to obtain certain colors. Does anyone know how to color mild steel with some sort of chemicals?
   Bill - Wednesday, 03/12/08 16:12:53 EST

Thanks for the info on babbitt everyone. I guess I'll have to get my machinery's Handbook back from my friend. I wonder does anyone know if there is any major differences in casting threaded rod directly in concrete or using the expensive epoxy, as far as corrosion and strength go?
   Josh S - Wednesday, 03/12/08 17:01:47 EST

Bill, Sporting goods stores sell Birchwood Casey browning and blueing chemicals.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/12/08 18:00:25 EST

GatorSpike: Roughly 1820-1920.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/12/08 19:06:38 EST

Finally a question I know something about (6 years of work in a lab developing concrete admixtures). It depends on what you are trying to achieve by putting the rod in the concrete. If it is for reinforcement, threaded rod without epoxy will decrease shrinkage and increase tensile and flexural strength quite well. Even bare steel is usually quite well protected from corrosion by the alkaline envronment of conrete, as long as no part of the steel is exposed to the air, the concrete is not in a particularly salty environment, and the concrete itself was not accelerated with a cheap chloride-based admixture.
Epoxy will likely detract slightly from the strength adding benefits of the steel in terms of tensile or flexural loads, but make little to no difference to compressive strength of the steel reinforced concrete.
Epoxy, however, will protect against corrosion in one of the scenarios mentioned above.
   Craig - Wednesday, 03/12/08 19:37:20 EST

Further to previous...
As far as I know, epoxy is mainly used where steel needs to be anchored in rock or concrete that is already hard. Like cable bolts used to support the roofs of underground mines. Epoxy needs a key to bond to which I doubt wet concrete will provide, especially since most 2-pack epoxies are hydrophobic.
   Craig - Wednesday, 03/12/08 19:44:28 EST

I suspect Josh is asking about concrete anchors here. Threaded rod will get some grip cast in the concrete but it's usually done by bending the anchor into an "L" or a "J" to prevent pulling out. Then again, maybe Craig understands what you are doing better.
   - grant - Wednesday, 03/12/08 19:47:35 EST

Thanks for the info, Craig. the threaded rod will be anchoring a base plate for a large sculpture of a sword. I will also reinforce the concrete with a welded framework of rebar.
   Josh S - Wednesday, 03/12/08 19:51:13 EST

Josh S.,

If you're pouring the concrete and can get the anchor rods set exactly correctly, then cast in regular "J" bolt intended for the purpose. They will have far greater strength than straight threaded rod and also greater strength than threaded rod that has been bent. When you bend threaded rod, all those little grooves (threads) act as stress risers and weaken the rod at the bend. "J" bolts are not threaded where they turn, so no stress risers. Also, J bolts are hot-dipped galvanized, rather than flash plated, so they have much better resistance to later rusting. Be sure to use HDG nuts, as regular nuts may likely fit so tightly that they will strip off the galvanizing.

Epoxy works pretty well in fully cured concrete but is dicey in green concrete. What you are looking for in an anchor in concrete is called the "cone of expansion", so the deeper the anchor and the more area it encompasses, the greater the cone of expansion and therefore the greater resistance to withdrawal. You can calculate the moment arm of the sculpture and predict the load on the anchor so you know how deep you need to set your anchor and what diameter you need to use.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/12/08 20:13:46 EST

Thanks for that, vicopper. Would the calculating the moment arm have to do with wind load and the height of the sculpture? I'll probably have to enlist an engineer.
   Josh S - Wednesday, 03/12/08 20:55:57 EST

Josh: Most codes do not allow welding on rebar, it's supposed to be tied with wire at all joints. Vicopper is correct about bending threaded bar, you should only have therads where you need them.
   - grant - Wednesday, 03/12/08 21:27:03 EST


Yeah, the moment arm would be the wind load times 1/2 the height of the sculpture, roughly. For general purposes, you can probably figure 30psf wind load I would think- I used to use that for calculating wind loads and footings for signs in the Southwest and never had any problems. If the thing is in an area where people could be in jeopardy, I'd recommend having an engineer do the calcs and give you a recommended footing and anchors for your area. Cheap insurance, y'know?
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/12/08 21:30:31 EST

Hi i tried hardening one of my knives in used motor oil an now i'm having some trouble getting the stuff off any suggestions

thanks Dent
   - Dent - Wednesday, 03/12/08 22:49:49 EST

I'm in a metalshop class at my high school and I want to make a small gas forge out of a propane tank. I need instructions on how to make a burner assembly.
   travis - Wednesday, 03/12/08 22:58:57 EST

Josh S, I agree with Grant, I've always been taught that it's a big no-no to weld rebar together, cut it with an OxyAcet. torch, or to apply heat when bending corners and curves if it's to be used for concrete reinforcement. It should also be as rust free as possible, but don't apply grease or oil to keep it from rusting as these things prevent a good bond with the 'crete itself.
   MacFly - Thursday, 03/13/08 00:46:34 EST

If I'm not mistaking threaded rod (called all-thread in some places) has only a fraction of the sheer strength of a standard bolt. I recommend using long bolts, bending over the head area if possible. If not, tack weld on a large diameter washer at the head.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 03/13/08 03:37:12 EST

Burnt Oil: Dent, grind it, or sand it.

Anchoring a Sculpture: Besides wind load you also have to consider that in some places people might climb on your sculpture. AND in some locations you may need to consider earthquake resistance. Design your sculpture with a cover to fit over the bolt flange.

Along with the bolt strength the size of that block of concrete must be able to resist those forces as well. Normally you want to do it with pure mass and ignore the support of the Earth. This is cheaper than doing soil studies.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/13/08 08:12:35 EST

Travis, See our FAQ's page, the gas forge article.

We recently had a discussion about burner nozzle alignment. In my burner design you should be able to see light through the MIG tip from the opening of the 3/4" pipe 10" away. Normally this is within about a 30% bullseye of the pipe but as long as you can see through it the centering is good enough.

Be sure to stuff scrap kaowool around the outside of the burner where it enters the forge so that hot gases do not blow out around the bunrer. This often feeds back into the burner causing poor operation.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/13/08 08:32:36 EST

If this is going to be a sculpture accessible to the public or even to people on private land you would be wise to get foundation plans and bolt sizes specified and stamped by a licensed civil engineer. Follow them to the letter and stash them someplace safe in case of an accident and a lawsuit.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 03/13/08 09:00:47 EST

Statue Climbing Statutes

In the National Parks it's against the law to climb statues. They do it anyway, and we bust them (happened just this month, Monday, March 10 http://home.nps.gov/applications/morningreport/morningreportold.cfm ), so yes, you can pretty much expect general abuse of any outdoor sculpture, so you might as well plan on it.

Idiot-proofing is a constant challenge in any public space. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/13/08 11:22:31 EST

Hello Guru(s),
My 6th grader is doing a compass experiment. One of the test cases requires a pure iron compass needle. We have been unable to locate iron needles, nails, etc. Can you point us in the right direction.
Your help is very much appreciated, Steve
   Steven Darcy - Thursday, 03/13/08 13:04:31 EST

Steven, There is either a error in the directions or in their reading. Pure iron cannot be magnetized. While it IS magnetic it will not magnetize and remain magnetic. Steel, the harder the better, will magnetize and hold the magnetism. The harder the steel the more permanent the magnet.

A compass needle is magnetized by whipping it quickly past a good strong magnet or by magnetizing it in a magnetizer that uses a quickly collapsing magnetic field.

For school experiments a common sewing needle is used. Note that these are different from headed sewing pins which are soft and do not hold magnetism very well.

While pure iron is made as a specialty product, all nails, pins needles (compass needles) and similar hardware are made of steel. Steel varies greatly in properties depending on the kind of steel. Nails and common pins are low carbon (soft steel). Sewing needles are a medium to high carbon steel and can be quite hard.

The lowest carbon (closest to pure iron) product available is soft iron or steel wire. It is usually what is known as 1008 steel. That is .08% carbon and very soft. The other low carbon product is transformer plate steel and it is less than .01% carbon. But it is not easy for an individual to obtain.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/13/08 13:40:36 EST

Music wire is often high carbon steel and can sometimes be purchased in small ammounts at craft/hobby shops in small diameter that can then be cut to usable lengths.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/13/08 14:12:18 EST

Thanks for the info. I need to look into what he is doing. Perhaps part of what he is trying to demonstrate is that iron will not work. We have a steel needle, a brass needle, a nickle plated brass needle and a few others.
Thanks, Steve
   Steven Darcy - Thursday, 03/13/08 15:07:00 EST

What is a cheap, and still useful blower that could be gotten in the redneck area of Missouri? It will be used on a three burner forced air forge. So it needs to have enough push to be split between three burners and still have to get the flame HOT.
Thanks for all your help
   - chemgeek - Thursday, 03/13/08 16:43:15 EST

Just about anything electronic with a plug has a transformer in it (or in the little cube that plugs directly in to the wall). Generally, they have laminated cores of low-carbon steel (at least I think that's nearly always what it is). The cores are made up of thin plates fastened with mechanical fasteners. It shouldn't be hard to take one apart and cut a compass needle from one of the plates. Getting a piece big enough to forge something out of is another story.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 03/13/08 17:36:03 EST

Pure Iron: Steven, if the point is a control or a pure iron proof then finding the iron is a trick. Pure iron is sold for blacksmiths and for making transformers but it is all fairly large bar or plate compared to the little sliver you need. I have a bundle of it somewhere but in my current state of being half way moved from one place to another I am sure I cannot place where it is. . .

If you disassemble an old transformer (like a door bell or power supply brick), the plates with the copper wire wrapped around them are very nearly pure iron.

The reason pure iron is used for transformers and solenoids is that the AC current creates a reversing magnetic field that would be resisted one way or the other OR both directions, creating excess heat and humming if the transformer core became magnetized.

All low voltage power supplies (like power supply bricks and battery chargers) have a transformer in them. It is recognizable as a block of laminated steel plates with wire coiled around it. Most "bricks" are potted, that is molded with plastic surrounding the parts. Disassembly would probably require some judiciously applied force (a hammer and smashing). What you are after is some of the plate material.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/13/08 17:42:47 EST

Chemgeek, Based on your forge description I think you REALLY need a 50 HP two stage high head turbo blower.

A "forge" can vary in size from a teacup to big enough to contain a rail car or two. . . Welding heat flames can be as small as a grain of wheat.

Both Centaur Forge and Blacksmiths Depot sell average size blacksmith forge blowers. For gas, one of the smaller ones will do. Both UPS and the USPS serve Missouri unless there is an embargo I do not know about. . ..

Otherwise you are looking for scrap or small blowers that are available at very few places. If it will fit in your hat it is probably close to the right size for a small hobby gas forge. 100 to 200 CFM from a centrifugal (squirl cage) type blower will do. Dividing the flow only creates problems. Keep it SIMPLE.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/13/08 17:49:26 EST

Anchors-Industry standard in the building trades for embedded anchors is an engineered product like what Simpson Strong Tie makes. http://www.strongtie.com Structural engineers spec Simpson's stuff for our installs all the time. Lots of choices, easy to get (even our local hardware store can order it in.)
   Jud Yaggy - Thursday, 03/13/08 18:10:30 EST

I used to say "Foolproof" and "Idiot proof" after years in industry, I now know better and say "Fool resistant" and "Idiot resistant"
The fools/Idiots are always much smarter than I as they always figure a way to overcome any proofing I had applied.
I can make something resistant to the less persistant/resourcefull fools/idiots but not proof.
   Ptree - Thursday, 03/13/08 19:18:49 EST

Where I served My apprenticeship they specialised in stamping lamnations, mostly for small motors and servos for the aerospace and defense industries. Most of the lamnations were stamped from silicon steel or from Carpenter 49, which I believe had nickel in it.
   - Electrical laminations - Thursday, 03/13/08 20:14:25 EST

The above post about the lamnations is mine, I put the title in the name box. :-(
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/13/08 20:15:58 EST

When the kids were little, we childproofed the house. They got in anyway.
   - Peter Hirst - Thursday, 03/13/08 21:24:29 EST

Chemgeek: use 3 old hair dryers from the junk store. air can be controlled with a small piece of paper over the inlet on the back of the dryers! Well, you said redneck and cheap!
   - grant - Thursday, 03/13/08 21:51:55 EST

I have not yet bought my power hammer but am seriously considering getting one. Somebody has told me that the best of the small Ayangs is the 25Kg (55 pound) one. Does anybody have any experience of them please?
   - philip in china - Thursday, 03/13/08 23:27:59 EST

On the lily project again... Yes, I had planned to scale it down to inch round stock, but that still leaves me with the problem of having a relatively small forge. Would it be particularly detrimental to the efficiency of the forge if I were to cut a small hole in the back wall of the brake drum to allow the piece to be heated in the middle? At the moment, I can only manage to heat 6-8 inches of an end at one time, which obviously makes the drawing out of 12 inches of original stock a little problematic...
   Craig - Thursday, 03/13/08 23:47:58 EST

I'm a knife maker mostly but have been asked to make some boat caulking irons. I'm wondering about the best method to create this shape. They are flat and fan shaped tapering into a rod with a head on it for tapping with a hammer. The edge of the widest part of the fan is anywhere from 1/4 to 1/32 inch, the tool gets thicker until it is about 3/8 and turns into a rod of that size. they are generally 6" long. The problem I've found is round stock that is big enough to create the fan takes a huge amount of grinding or hammering to draw it down to 3/8, I'm familiar with upsetting the end to create the head.I have a coal forge, grinder, torch and metal lathe.Thanks for your help!
   Haley Bell - Friday, 03/14/08 03:02:51 EST

Haley Bell: Go look at chisels used for other purposes, such as concrete splitting chisels with the teeth on the edge. Grind them off and I suspect they would come very close to your requirement. (If you want a picture of one, e-mail me - click on name for form - and I'll provide it directly.)

On idiot proofing. For several years I was the head of a small group who did programming for a Comptroller office. We had a guy named Arnie in the office who was our BETA tester. If there was a programming problem, he would find it, no matter how minor. It was only after Arnie could work the program smoothly did it go on for larger group testing.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/14/08 06:23:14 EST

"Foolproof" is not the same as "Damn Fool Proof"
   - Charlie Spademan - Friday, 03/14/08 07:04:35 EST

further information for 3-12-08 posting: Weight 48 lbs., widest 17 3/4 inches, height 21 inches at tallest. I have sent 7 photos to guru at anvilfire.com! feel free to post one or any of them if you like. This hoist is more like the supporting feature that moved the entire lifting system from one end of the barn to the other. Not the actual lift part. several pullies are contained within this unit, to asist with lifting. I have been told by neighbors who have lived by this barn for over 80 yrs that this barn had this item in it as long as they have been around. They also advised me that their children used to play in this barn, with the children of the farmer. Hope this information helps.
   Cathy Loeloff - Friday, 03/14/08 07:46:34 EST

Haley: Your customer no doubt wants a genuine caulking iron, one that is struck with a wooden mallet, right? One problem is that these things are generally cast rather than forged so the dimensions are not going to come easy from a forging. But if you can upset for that wide head, you can upset for the thickness of the edge, too. That big thick sucker, the no 2 or 3, is 1/4 thick, but it only needs to be 2" wide, right? So theoretically you can get it from a 1" section, which should be relatively easy to upset from 1/2 or 3/4 stock, which in turn is relatively easy to draw or turn down to your 3/8 shaft. I would seriously rethink that 3/8, btw. This is a malleable iron tool being struck with a tool head that weighs a couple pounds. This is a fairly common tool around here, and while I dont have one in front of me, I'm thinking 1/2" or even 9/16 a more realistic size shaft. And a LOT easier to get from stock that will give you the thickness at the business end
   Peter Hirst - Friday, 03/14/08 08:51:13 EST

Caulking Iron Problem: Haley, Tools such as this are forged 100% with only a touchup on the grinder. On a part such as this you would start with a rectangular piece so that half the forging was fullering the width and half drawing the striking end. A triangular blank would speed things up.

On the other hand, if these tools have the typical long hex shank then the entire width is probably forged from the hex stock. You would be amazed at how far you can fuller using
the right dies in a power hammer. OR they might be upset. . .

I would bet they are forged from flat stock.
   - guru - Friday, 03/14/08 09:00:18 EST

Cathy - go to Ebay and search for hay trolley. There are 19 different ones listed at the moment - different brands. This will give you an idea as to what this type of item is selling for at the moment. These are fairly common around here (MO). Every old hay barn has one in it.
   - Bernard Tappel - Friday, 03/14/08 09:27:47 EST

Cathy Loeloff, I no longer use that address due to spam. Try. .NET

What you are describing it the trolley that ran on a beam high in the barn. Because of the difficulty of installation these were generally purchased in advance of building the barn and installed as part of the construction. The beam it rode on may or may not have been provided with the trolley. The entire device would include the hay pickup fork.

While devices of this type ARE antique and fairly rare there is little or no collector's value in them. Until they are almost all gone and the big dust bowl era barns themselves become historical landmarks (they are disappearing quickly), they will have little cash value.

There are thousands of items that come into this category of being antique and fairly rare but there being no collector's interest in them. Usually there ARE collectors, but they know the market and are still buying cheap while the market is low.
   - guru - Friday, 03/14/08 09:28:54 EST

ok I did resend pictures to you. Thanks
   Cathy Loeloff - Friday, 03/14/08 10:31:42 EST

Caulking iron: you could forge weld more mass to one end too. I would go looking for a piece of scrap that had the upset already done myself (Could you do it from a HC RR spike being careful to drive the head mass into a smooth blob on the end?); or go with slightly larger stock, upset as much as possible and then aggressively draw sideways.

I've seen a video of a fellow making a hoe from a short piece of thick square stock. He used a large drophammer to start drawing out each side and a power hammer to refine and also to take down the shaft.

Craig for my small brakedrum forge I made a sheet metal insert that fit right inside the wall to give it extra height. I left the section where the two ends would meet open a bit and cut a mousehole opposite it to allow me to slide long work all the way through. This made the forge a lot nicer and I used it to weld billets for several years.

Forges fairly commonly have a pass through built in; just make sure it's set so that the stock will be at the right level for the fire as well. You can put a door on it if you have trouble with coal falling out when you are not using long stock.

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/14/08 10:36:48 EST

Bernard, Thanks the ones on ebay are similar, mine appears to be larger than most of them models, and ran on a larger beam. I remember the beam quite well because it was in excellent condition for its age. A good roof was responsible for its condition.
   Cathy Loeloff - Friday, 03/14/08 10:38:24 EST

Cathy, no photos. . . but don't worry about it. There is not much else that can be said about your hay crane trolley. Currently there does not appear to be a collector's market and Thomas noted a common price of about $50 for the hay grab, the trolley would go for about the same, maybe less.

There are mills, old factories, machine shops and other places filled with this kind of stuff that sells for scrap or less. It is all wonderful hardware made by companies long out of business. The fact is that nobody cares. I hate to see it go to scrap but that is what happens.
   - guru - Friday, 03/14/08 12:09:23 EST

Cathy et al.,
I have more than one piece that falls into the category of "trash or treasure", depending on who's buying. One nice piece that I tried to sell to more than one railroad buff, is a wrought iron chain stamped "SANTA FE ROUTE" on the grab hook. It is difficult to pedal something that weighs about 140 pounds. Each forge welded link (there are 66) is made of 7/8" round, and the hook is of 1 3/4" square bent on the diamond. The grab hook alone must weigh 25 pounds. So, this is something that has value, perhaps to a museum, a RR aficianado, or to a person decorating a large interior of a building foyer, or suchlike. I like it, and I'm not going to take it to the scrap yard.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/14/08 12:46:27 EST

Thanks all for the advice on how to get an iron compass needle. We will tear apart old A/C adapters until we find what we need!
Cheers, Steve
   Steven Darcy - Friday, 03/14/08 13:59:06 EST

On very small transformers, as are often found in wall wart power supplies, it is not uncommon to find transformer cores which are made from sintered powdered iron or ferrite.

Steve, you may have to tear apart several to find a low carbon steel core one.
   John Lowther - Friday, 03/14/08 18:07:30 EST

Picked up elements of a tube furnace or oven consisting two half cylinders of ceramic c. 10" long c. 3" I.D., with heating wires embedded, said by dealer, old friend Ed Grothus at Los Alamos Black Hole surplus yard, to reach 1900F. Problem: checking leads with my 3-volt continuity tester, I don't see continuity from one lead to the other on either half. Is it possible the Nichrome offers so much resistance that my puny 3 volts are not getting through to light the bulb on the tester, or are these semi-cylinders just pooched? They look to be totally unused. Many thanks!!
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 03/14/08 22:57:33 EST

Thanks for the advice on the caulking tools. The 3/8 was a typo btw, you're right the tools I've been making are around 1/2 diam. I wish I had another hammering device besides my arm but that won't happen for awhile. I'll try upsetting both ends tho, that operation actually is kinda fun.
   Haley Bell - Saturday, 03/15/08 01:05:06 EST


In my (limited) experience, nicrome elements show a resistance in the ohms, tens, or maybe hundreds of ohms. If you think about it, a 120 ohm element connected across 120 volts would draw one amp and make 120 watts. 12 ohms would give 10 amps and 1200 watts. And measured resistance with the element cold should be lower.

So unless a lead came unplugged from your meter or something, there's a problem with the element. But tracking it down shouldn't be rocket science. (If it was, Los Alamos would have been able to fix it (grin)).
   Mike BR - Saturday, 03/15/08 06:54:52 EST

I amy trying to find a supplier for candle cups to match a sample I have here. The cups are steel, unplated, with a hole through the botton so that they can be welded from the inside. The steel thickness is fairly heavy - looks like about .060 thick but hard to measure after the drawing-out process. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all and good weekend.
   karl - Saturday, 03/15/08 07:00:28 EST

Mike BR-- Thanks! I will try another tester, dig out an ohmmeter I think I have here somewhere, before making the 60-mile roundtrip to the yard.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 03/15/08 08:07:28 EST

Karl, The design concepts for candle cups go on ad infinitum, but I do know that Jere Kirkpatrick sells them. http://www.saber.net/~jere/cups.html
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/15/08 09:45:28 EST

Mike BR-- The ohmmeter indicates the wires are intact.
Thanks again!
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 03/15/08 09:45:33 EST

Steve Compass needle
I just toke apart a microwave and pulled the transformer out of it. This transformer is made of many metal plates.
I am going to use it to make a small spot welder.
   blackbart - Saturday, 03/15/08 14:10:30 EST

Candle CUps

I have been buying them from Jere Kirkatrick for years. Great to deal with, prompt, reasonble pricing,, and has a few other useful items as I recall: shovel blanks, candle discs up to 4 or five inches ets.
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 03/15/08 16:35:17 EST

OH: on the candle cups: the opening in the bottom is generally so large that they cannot be welded direcly to anything smaller than 5/8 or so. Holding them down to weld on a drip pan is also a little tricky. To weld them on a drip pan, I first grind or file the bevel on the bottom so that it sits flush on the pan, then take a very thin fender type washer just larger than the bottom opening, I think also from Jere, and screw it over the bittom inside of the cup and through the center hole in the pan. The washer pretty much vaporizes in the process, leaving the weld bead behind on the inside and a virtually undetectable seam on the outside. The center hole in the drip pan (about 1/8) can then be sized for welding or riveting to just about anything
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 03/15/08 16:48:52 EST

Candle cups- Both pipe and tube can be fullered down and cut off so the fullered section can be turned into a tennon for attachment of the resulting candle cup. This method has the added advantage of thicker cup sidewalls on the larger end that can be flared and forged into shapes and lengths unavailable in the mailorder types.
   Jud Yaggy - Saturday, 03/15/08 17:58:43 EST

Forgive my ignorance, but are there still demos in the Pub on a weekly basis? I've been away for quite some time and am just getting back into things. I noticed that there are no recent postings on the iForge archive. I was (still am) quite fond of the demos. Lots of info. The archive makes it easy to go back and read up when I'm starting a new project. Thanks.
   Bill A. - Saturday, 03/15/08 19:56:58 EST

blackbart: Unless You rewind the transformer it will not be what You want for a spot welder. You want a secondary winding with few turns of really heavy wire so you have high amperage at low voltage.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/15/08 21:50:21 EST

I would like to weld for damascus billets (bladesmithing)and a hydraulic press would be best for my neighborhood (noise).

Is the heat loss from the longer contact with the dies a problem that limits the work time between heating? Theoretical or real issue?
   deloid - Saturday, 03/15/08 23:48:59 EST

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